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Environmental lawyers find glaring gaps in proposed aquaculture regulations

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

VANCOUVER. Environmental lawyers have raised serious concerns over proposed new federal regulations that would allow aquaculture facilities to dump aquatic drugs, pesticides and fish waste into wild fish habitat with impunity. In submissions made today to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the West Coast Environmental Law Association has rejected the government’s plan to reduce oversight over fish farms and calls for stronger environmental laws to protect BC’s struggling salmon populations.

Weakening BC’s environmental laws risks eroding social licence for Government’s Cleanest LNG goals

17 June, 2014

Several of the most contentious changes to environmental laws passed during the 2014 spring session of the BC Legislature seem to have been developed, and pushed through, in a mad rush and without adequate public consultation. The goal of these laws seems, at least in part, to be to remove perceived environmental constraints on certain types of development – notably natural gas exploration, development and export. Such laws erode environmental legal safeguards, and in turn reduce public confidence in BC’s environmental safety net. This will ultimately hurt the government’s desire to push through quick LNG development. 

Poll after poll say that British Columbians favour strong environmental laws – laws that don’t trade our environment off against short-term economic gains. As a result, when governments try to weaken environmental laws in the name of growth, it often backfires, with development proposals losing the social licence that they need, and becoming caught up in public controversy.

Challenging U.S. coal to China from Texada Island, BC

13 June, 2014

Should BC be used to trans-ship American coal to China? Who gets to decide? And what does that mean for our environment? These issues and others will be considered in a legal challenge brought by Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC), with support from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, to a government decision approving the ten- to twenty-fold dramatic expansion of coal shipping from Texada Island.  Most of this coal will come from Wyoming and Montana, shipped through the controversial proposed Fraser Surrey Docks Coal Port, and could, in the long term, increase to as much as 8 million metric tonnes per year.  What happens on Texada will have an impact throughout the region – and globally.

Should BC be used to trans-ship American coal to China? Who gets to decide? And what does that mean for our environment?

Site C dam: The best option for new energy BC doesn’t need

20 May, 2014

The environmental assessment panel's reviewing BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam on the Peace River was clear: Site C would have significant environmental and social consequences that would be unfairly borne by locals, those costs could only be justified by an unambiguous need for its power, and BC Hydro has failed to prove that we need that energy, at least not on the timelines it proposed.

Photo credit Graham Osborne

On May 7th, the Joint Review Panel considering BC Hydro’s proposed Site C dam on the Peace River issued its final report.

“Certainty” for fish farms could mean uncertain future for fish

28 April, 2014

New regulations under the Fisheries Act allow Canada’s Fisheries and Environment Ministers to give blanket authorization to cause pollution in fish habitat in a range of circumstances, including pollution from fish farm companies seeking to control “pests” or invasive species.   These regulations are the latest in a series of changes to Canada’s fish protection laws the government has made in the name of providing “certainty” to industry.  But what about fisheries laws that would provide certainty to Canadians that their wild fish and natural environment will be there for future generations? 

New regulations under the Fisheries Act allow Canada’s Fisheries and Environment Ministers to give blanket authorization to cause pollution in fish habitat in a range of circumstances, including pollution from fish farm companies seeking to control “pests” or invasive species.   These regulations are the latest in a series of changes to Canada’s fish protection laws the government has made in the name of providing “certainty” to industry. 

The lowdown on changes to BC’s environmental laws

14 April, 2014

The current session of the BC Legislature has kept us quite busy.  While we’ve had occasion to discuss several bills in our Environmental Law Alert, we haven’t even mentioned a host of others that we are following with interest.  This session, the BC government has introduced a whole series of amendments and new statutes with environmental implications – some good, some not good – and many of them with little or no public consultation.  We have significant concerns about a number of these bills, and wish that the government would take the time to consult the general public, First Nations and stakeholders when making these types of changes.  We believe that such consultations do result in better laws.

The current session of the BC Legislature has kept us quite busy.  While we’ve had occasion to discuss several bills in our Environmental Law Alert, we haven’t even mentioned a host of others that we are following with interest.  This session, the BC government has introduced a whole series of amendments and new statutes with environmental implications – some good, some not good – and many of them with little or no public consultation. 

Bill 24 – Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act: Undermining BC’s food security

10 April, 2014

Following hot on the heels of the controversial Park Amendment Act (Bill 4), the BC government has introduced another bill that would open up some of the province’s most publicly valuable lands – in this case, its farmlands – to industrial development. Bill 24, the Agricultural Land Commission Amendment Act, weakens legal protection on some of the best of BC's scarce agricultural lands. If passed, Bill 24 would allow decision makers to prioritize short-term gains over the long-term goal of protecting farmland and food security for most of the province’s ALR lands.

Read on to learn more, or you can use our handy on-line letter to tell the BC government: hands off our food security

Following hot on the heels of the controversial Park Amendment Act (Bill 4), the BC government has introduced another bill that would open up some of the province’s most publicly valuable lands – in this case, its farmlands – to industrial development.

The strengths and weaknesses of the new Water Sustainability Act

14 March, 2014

The BC Government introduced its long-promised Water Sustainability Act in the BC Legislature on Tuesday.  As we said when the government started its last round of public consultation on the proposed Act:

Water, and how we treat our water, is one of those fundamental issues that touches on so much of who we are, what we do, and how we build our economy.  A weak Water Sustainability Act could fail to deal with current unsustainable and inefficient water use, and could lock in these problems for years to come.  A strong Act could address past over-use, and wasteful use, of water and protect drinking water and fish from over-use, poor oil and gas, logging or mining practices, and other threats.

The BC Government introduced its long-promised Water Sustainability Act in the BC Legislature on Tuesday.  As we said when the government started its last round of public consultation on the proposed Act:

Urgent: Act now to protect Canada’s wild fish

14 March, 2014

Since 2012, the Canadian government has systematically gutted its laws protecting fish. First, it amended the federal Fisheries Act, dramatically weakening protection of fish and fish habitat. Then, it lifted the moratorium on fish farms in BC, opening the door to a massive expansion of aquaculture. Now, it wants to pass regulations that would allow the Environment and Fisheries Ministers to permit fish farms and industry to pollute our waters, harming fish with impunity. We have provided a letter that you can customize and send.

Update, 29 July 2014: The Regulations Establishing Conditions for Making Regulations Under Subsection 36(5.2) of the Fisheries Act were brought into force and published in April, 2014.

 

Advisory: #Law students argue court appeal in x-Canada #Twitter contest

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#Lawstudents argue court appeal on #mining & #indigenous rights in X-Canada #Twitter Contest on Feb 28th at 10am PST: www.wcel.org/twtmoot

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